The Dome closed after heavy snow collapses roof

Published: Jan. 22, 2017 at 9:52 AM AKST
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The Dome is closed after a heavy amount of snowfall caused the roof to collapse Saturday night.

Management at the facility said no injuries were reported after the building was evacuated.

All programs at the multi-sports facility will be postponed until repairs can be made.

Mike Martin, The Dome chairman of the board said snow removal went on throughout Saturday, but the snowfall eventually overtook their efforts by midnight.

"We do remove the snow virtually every time it snows," Martin said. "The dome has multiple back up systems to maintain the level of inflation."

Dino Sutherland, general manager for The Dome said from the time the roof began to bow to the time it fully collapsed was a period of between 16 and 18 hours.

"I noticed the dome was starting to lose a little bit of height and the snow storm escalated and we had a rapid accumulation of snow," Sutherland said. "It was around 2 o'clock I decided to close the dome, by 4 o'clock I got everybody out."

It's not yet known how much the repairs will cost, but Martin said leaders have been in touch with The Dome's insurance company.

"We had a preliminary discussion with the adjuster thus far, but our plans are to re-inflate the dome," Martin said.

The track and turf on the ground weren't damaged.

The building was constructed around 2006 and at any given time sees hundreds of visitors a day, particularly during the cold months.

"That changes from day to day, but it can be in the neighborhood of thousands of people in and out of the dome," Martin said. "This is our busiest time and the dome's most profitable time of year."

While the facility remains unusable, Martin said the loss in revenue could be significant.

"A Sunday for example, we have activities a day so that's about $7500 a day in revenue, so it'll add up quickly," Martin said.

The material used to support the structure is designed to handle 2 inches of water column pressure.

"We didn't exceed this yesterday at any time that I'm aware of," Martin said. "It was about 1.9 last I had looked, which was maybe 30 minutes before the top came down."

In the mean time, user groups like UAA's track team will have to use UAA's Alaska Airlines Center and run on a much smaller track.

Michael Freiss, who coaches the team said the dome was a huge asset for his 50 athletes.

"This facility is foundational to us," Freiss said. "It's our home complex, it's where we train daily for 5, 6 hours a day, it's very valuable to us and our program."

Freiss said the team is in the middle of competitions with an upcoming meet next Saturday.

"We do have a good facility at the University Alaska Airlines Center and we're gonna have to maximize that as best as we can," Freiss said. "Obviously when you're missing a 400 meter indoor track, that's gonna impact an awful lot, but you know we're in it for the long haul and we know this too shall pass."